Austen Reno’s creative impulses have mutated once again. Having spent the better half of the 2010s as a road-tested touring musician, Reno remains aware of what keeps him moving forward. Sometimes it’s the talent he inherited from Don Reno, a world-class bluegrass player with six decades of career accolades. Oftentimes it’s the creativity buzzing between his close-knit circle in Grand Rapids, Michigan and surrounding enclaves. Drivin’ 25 encapsulates the light at the end of a quarter-life crisis, leaving all past lives in the rearview in favor of what’s ahead.
Unlike Reno’s debut album, Pull Yourself Together, its follow-up EP locks in to a specific groove rather than drifting between gears. The name of the game here is crystalline radio pop, where Reno crafts escape plans to the beach, Detroit hotel rooms, and the open road. Rather than exist as flimsy daydreams, Reno fills these reveries in Technicolor, with the edges defined by featured artists that move tracks away from one man’s head in the clouds. With Drivin’ 25, Austen Reno is in control and the course is clear and set: whatever path ensures as much domination of the attention economy as possible. Call shotgun if you want.